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Kenmore West High School basketball preview 2012-13

Kenmore West will be depending on its work ethic to improve this season after all five starters from last year graduated. (File photo)

New-look Ken West to depend on work ethic

Believe or leave is the motto fueling the Kenmore West Blue Devils girls basketball team as they head into the 2012-13 season.

Then again hard work is far from new for the Blue Devils, who have been producing teams that battle until the final second. It’s become the hallmark of a team coached by Mike Licata and Jeff Martin.

“Everybody has ebs and flows in the talent in your program,” Licata said. “But the things that we can control that can remain constant, even if the faces change, is attitude. We’ve got to bring it every night in practice. We have to believe that we’re not working hard enough.

“You have to almost have that fear that someone out there is working twice as hard, so I can’t let up,” he added. “I think those kids, what they maybe can’t bring me in talent at this moment, they can bring me all those other intangibles.”

Ken-West will need that strong work ethic once again as it graduated eight seniors, including all five starters. Gone are Lauren Czarniak, Melanie Fisher, Jess Jolley, Lexi Panepinto, Jenna Panepinto, Molly Booi, Liz Pelligrino and Taylor Smith.

Leading the way for Ken-West will be seniors Liz Gallagher and Marylouise Lindner. The top two players off the bench last season, Gallagher and Lindner both made solid contributions and took sizeable strides in their game.

The onus will be on their shoulders to set the tone for the newcomers.

“We definitely have some big shoes to fill but I don’t look at it like we’re starting off lower than last year,” Gallagher said. “Last year, I feel, we started off as a new team with different people and it just took a lot of hard work. So I think that’s what we’re going to have to do this year.”

Danielle Hoare, Alyssa Lesakowski and Sharon Gaurino also return and are looking to play bigger roles.

Melissa Fisher, Katie Proy, Grace Ferguson, Hannah Hanley, Hayley Johnston, Shelby Donhauser and Charlotte Miller are all new to varsity. Fisher will take over as starting point guard, a role that she held on JV.

While this influx of promising young talent still has to prove themselves at the varsity level, Licata is excited about having so many new faces that had the seeds of confidence planted while on last year’s 14-4 JV team.

“When you have a group of kids that were coached by(JV head coach) Joe Catalano, I know I have a group of kids that when I say, ‘bring your lunch pail and your hard hat,’ these kids had that all year long,” Licata said. “I never doubt their ability to come in and give me an honest two-hour practice.”

The Blue Devil coaching ranks have also seen a shakeup. JV assistant Lisa Paolucci will now be on the varsity bench. Catalano has returned to the Lancaster varsity team to serve as an assistant to his daughter, Karen Catalano.

The door has been opened for Mike Licata Jr. and Cory Martin to take over the Ken West JV. The younger Licata-Martin duo coached Franklin modified boys last season.

Sizeable difference in this Blue Devils squad

Big is the buzzword for the Kenmore West Blue Devils basketball team this year. That’s big, in not only expectations for themselves, but also in terms of the team’s height across the board.

The biggest of players, 6-foot-7 Quinton “Q” Campbell, will be the focal point of the Blue Devils’ offense.

“We’re big. We have a lot of size, which we haven’t had in years,” head coach Mike Meetze said.

“So we’re really trying to change ‑ go inside-out a lot more, with Q…who also has good ball skills. So, we’re hoping he’s going to command a double team and open everything up.”

Campbell, the lone returning starter will serve as captain along with Adam Fron and Shay Cuadra, and will indeed be the center piece of Ken-West’s game.

“I’m always a team player,” Campbell said. “I like how guys look up to me and expect me to score. I like that position, but at the same time I understand when the double is coming I’ve got the outside pass to make.”

But Campbell won’t be the lone redwood in the forest as the Blue Devils also have Greg Howell and Steve Kulick, who are both 6-foot-4, in addition to 6-foot-3 Josh Sanders on the floor.

Marcus Lobdell, Martin Bailey, Nick Hersey and Mike Wilcox lead the list of key departures as the Blue Devils lost four starters and their top three reserves.

But Meetze said Fron, Cuadra and new point guard Joe Northrup all saw varsity minutes and should be ready to transition into that starter role. Add Alex Price into the mix, and the Blue Devils have a solid starting five. Price will be at the two-guard, replacing what Mike Wilcox provided in that he can hit the outside shot and run the point if needed.

Meetze also feels Shay Cuadra, who was behind Lobdell on the depth chart, is ready to break out.

“Shay is pretty versatile,” Meetze added, “he’s kind of like how Marcus was. He can shoot, he can run. He’s probably our best athlete in the program...he’ll do a little bit of everything.”

Meetze also said that Fron is the kind of player who can give a little bit of everything, from scoring

to rebounding and simply bringing a hard-working mindset every day.

Campbell added that even though last year’s team had more polished individual players he likes that this squad seems to be working better as a unit.

His biggest concern is the lack of depth at guard. Last year, Meetze could roll six different guys at point if

need be. This year, if starting guards get in foul trouble, finding someone to get the ball to the big men will be an issue.

Terell Ford, Tyler Grandits, Nick Wojnar, Noah Whalen, Joe Andalora, LaQuan Salter and Nick Philip complete the lineup.

Sizing up the rest of the NFL, Meetze said he felt Niagara Falls was still the team to beat. And though Lockport, Niagara-Wheatfield and North Tonawanda should all be tough, Meetze thinks his team has what it takes to finish in the top three.

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